Saturday, January 29, 2011

Anniversary of Oracle's Official Takeover of Sun Microsystems

Today is the one year anniversary of Oracle officially taking over Sun Microsystems.  

On this date a year ago, Oracle and I went in our separate directions.   It was a bitter sweet day.  Bitter in that it was the classic, "of all sad songs of tongue and pen, the saddest are these, what might have been."  Scott McNealy sent out a very heart felt email last year at this time to all of Sun.   Below are my favorite parts of Scott's long email.  Everyone loved Scott McNealy.

"First and foremost, Sun innovated like crazy. We took it to the limit (see Eagles). And though we did not monetize our inventions as well as we could have, few companies have the track record in R&D that we had over the last 28 years. This made working at Sun really cool. Thanks to all of you inventors and risk takers who changed how we live.

Sun cared about its customers. Even more than we cared about our own company at times. We looked at our customer’s mission as more important than ours. Maybe we should have asked for more revenue in return, but our employees were always ready to help first. I love this about Sun which I guess makes me a good capitalist if not a great capitalist.

Sun did not cheat, lie, or break the rule of law or decency. While we enjoyed breaking the rules of conventional wisdom and archaic business practice and for sure loved to win in the market, we did so with a solid reputation for integrity. Nearly three decades of competing without a notable incident of our folks going off course morally or legally. Not all executives and big companies are bad. Really. There are good companies out there. Special thanks to all of my employees for this. I never had to hide the newspaper in shame from my children.

Sun was a financial success. We paid billions in taxes, salaries, purchases, leases, training, and even lawyers and accountants for devastatingly cumbersome SOX and legal compliance (oops, more classic digression). Long term and smart investors made billions in SUNW. And our customers generated revenue and savings using our equipment in countless ways. Many employees started families, bought homes and put them through school while working at Sun. Our revenues over 28 years exceeded $200B. Few companies make it to the F200. We did. Nice."

 It was also bitter that I would no longer be working for James Hollingshead.  James was/is a great leader and a long time friend.   The sweet part was an opportunity for a fresh start after 23 years of working at Sun Microsystems.  The other sweet part was the foresight and generosity of Sun Microsystems with their Director Change In Control provision (if Sun was ever purchased).  The feeling was much like the one I had when I sold half my SUNW stock in the late summer of 2000 near its all time peak :-)
Specifically, that feeling was I was being proactive in my decision making and following Warren Buffet's timeless financial advice of, "bulls and bears do fine and hogs get slaughtered."

The plan was for me to take off until fall 2010.   That plan changed two weeks later after having lunch with Doug Woods, the President for the Association of Manufacturing Technology (AMT).  Just like Vito Corleone in the movie The Godfather, Doug made me an offer I could not refuse :-)  After a week Doug and I agreed that AMT would create The Office of Strategic Innovation where I would be the Director and report directly to him as a consultant.   A few weeks after that I started part time consulting for AMT and currently I worked full time in 2010 for Doug.    2010 was a great year and I hope 2011 will be as well.

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